MUSIC AND PERFORMING ARTS
01 / 01 / 19
L'Auditori, January 17
The "curse of the Ninths" not only threatened those composers who were contemporaries of Ludwig van Beethoven, being Schubert the most discomforting case (he glimpsed the possibility of taking the lead once Beethoven had disappeared, but without success, because he himself would die soon after). Another of the greatest symphonists of all time, Gustav Mahler, only reached the Ninth, the last symphony completed in his lifetime. And he was aware of it -who knows if warned by that gloomy tradition- as can be seen from the fact that he considered this enormous work in terms of Requiem. A work that, like Schubert with his Ninth, was not premiered during his lifetime, and about which Leonard Bernstein, an infatuated Mahlerian, expressed among his intimates that Mahler had composed for him. Beyond the anecdote, it is a creation of great complexity, that requires for its interpretation an orchestra familiar with the language
of late Romanticism and at the same time open to experimentation that would come soon after, and which is clearly outlined in certain passages of sound inventiveness. With more than 150 years of history, the Symphony Orchestra of Düsseldorf, under the baton of the Hungarian maestro Adam Fischer, seems an appropriate set to manage accurately the sound volumes, that expand by means of a strange quietness or contract vertiginously, as in a spiral that could reflect effectively the experience of a farewell. Both the irruption of a theme that suggests death and the presence of the funeral march -the paradoxical celebration of a genre that Mahler appreciated and practiced in his compositions- come together in the first and extensive movement, Andante comodo.
L'Auditori, January 14
In the case of many instruments, even first-level soloists experience difficulties in performing recitals or concerts -except for the piano, violin and, at a certain distance, cello- since there are
not many works composed for them and, for consequent reasons, the public is not familiar with the repertoire that does exist. The greatest orchestras are the natural place for these virtuosos, very required in the main symphonic compositions. This is the case of the flutist Emmanuel Pahud, blessed for a long time as a "phenomenon" -he has recorded albums and performed in a large number of recitals- but that has remained the first flute of the Berlin Philharmonic for more than two decades, when he was called by maestro Abbado. At the Oriol Martorell hall of the Barcelona Auditori, accompanied by the pianist Eric le Sage, the assistants will be able to enjoy a wide range of skills, which are not only technical. The communicative capacity of the flute is put to the test in a specially composed piece for the instrument-Variations in E minor, "Dried Flowers", by Franz Schubert, which in fact derives from the homonymous song of the cycle Die Schöne Müllerin- but also in transcriptions of works originally conceived for other instruments. From the Sonata for violin in C major, K.296, by Wolfgang A. Mozart, to Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, op. 73 (originally for clarinet, violin or cello), including Mendelssohn's Sonata for violin in F major, whose adaptation for the wind instrument has also been done by Emmanuel Pahud.
Sala Apolo, January 24
The Sala Apolo hosts a concert starred by the absolute referent of Andalusí music, Eduardo Paniagua, who will perform various instruments together with Pedro Berruezo and Wafir S. Gibril.
A trained architect, Paniagua began to stand out in the mid-nineties for his interpretations of medieval music created in the Spanish peninsula. The different cultures -the three spiritual traditions- are, in this sense, widely represented in their repertoire, which sumps up 150 recordings. Among them are "Andalusí airs, Sephardic pieces, songs of Alfonso X El Sabio", explain the organizers of the musical event, who describe it as "a minimalist show but generous in emotions, that takes us back to the Middle Ages with songs and melodies of troubadour aromas, without forgetting the great poets of Sufism, whose poems are pure love".
L'Auditori, January 29
A teacher of pianists, a musician of impeccable technique, imaginative and subtle. All this has proved to be Josep Colom in recitals and recordings.
One of the latter, which brings together the works of Bach and Chopin, is especially representative of his approach to the scores, so respectful and honest that awakens a rare reverence. His way of playing seems to invite listening, inaugurating by itself the optimal space-time for the music to be heard. His modus operandi -exquisite touch and almost oriental concentration, full and relaxed attention, far from any coercion- seems ideal for the interpretation of Música Callada by Frederic Mompou, music that emerges from silence, that makes visible reverberations, colours articulated with apparent spontaneity.
Palau de la Música, January 31
Although Franz Schubert composed nine symphonies -or rather, eight and a half, if we take into account the peculiarity of the penultimate, "Unfinished"- his recognition did not grow precisely in concert halls.
In the privacy of the interiors, optimal for musical experiences closer to the artist, his prolific chamber music could be enjoyed, among which stand out his creations for voice and piano, the lieder (literally "songs") that are believed to have reached the 600. More than the high number of pieces that have earned him artistic immortality, the originality lies in the search for expressiveness, his new way of interrelating the song with the key instrument in kaleidoscopic feedback, which is not mere accompaniment. The cantabile character of the Schubertian melodies, which also incorporate the ineffable and sometimes tremendous eloquence of silence, can be found in other chamber compositions, such as the two Piano Trios that the prestigious Trio Wanderer will perform at the Palau de la Música recital. Mature compositions, that alternate vibrant passages with others of great subtlety. Very famous -especially for cinema lovers- is the Andante con moto of the second trio, which Stanley Kubrick uses in Barry Lyndon as a leitmotiv to interweave the progressions and misadventures of the protagonist. As in the case of the lieder, although exempt from a properly conceptual language, these minimalist compositions demonstrate a fascinating ability to express or induce emotions, approaching the magic of finding the proper name to the emotion which is evoked.
01 / 01 / 19
Foto Colectania, until February 17
After the success of the Saul Leiter exhibition, Foto Colectania, the Foundation specialized in photographic art, offers a fabulous show under the title "Identity Structures. The Walther Collection". It is a selection of pictures from the important German-American collection, which focuses on the portrait genre. A genre that implies proximity to the model, and thus allows to explore the idiosyncrasy of his/her personality and eventually revise some of the prejudices inherent in the most common look. The organizers say it so: "This exhibition raises how photographers from different cultures and historical periods have used the power of portraiture to affirm or question the social stereotypes created around issues of gender, social class and nationality". Obviously, within the field of the portrait self-representation is an important issue, i. e., the fixation of the self-image in a self-portrait, usually
considered as defining identity. Nevertheless, there are some aspects in that idea that need to be revised. Actually, the idea that photography reproduces reality has made possible one of the most fertile ambiguities, opening the field for creativity. In the present exhibition, some great names from the past -as important as August Sander, Richard Avedon or Seydou Keïta- are joined by top-level contemporary photographers, including Samuel Fosso, Zanele Muholi and Zhang Huan.
Palau Robert, until February 10
Until February 10th can be visited at the Palau Robert an exhibition that brings together works of 40 different photographers, with the common denominator of their commitment in the denunciation of injustice. "Creators of conscience" is the title of the exhibit, that reflects harsh situations, which in some cases are starred by anonymous heroes.
It is not, therefore, a mere recreation in the barbaric -which could end up banalizing the intolerable- but a choral vision of the extreme experiences to which the human being is subject. It is a merit of this exhibition to struggle against the cynical habituation to injustice and war conflicts. Names like those of Kim Manresa, Ana Palacios, Sergi Cámara, Carlos Spottorno, José Cendón or Alfonso Moral -to mention only a few- offer a captivating and confrontational view that prevents our usual way of normalizing the drama... At least during the time employed in the visit of the exhibition, whose itinerant character will allow it to be seen and perhaps impact -who knows, even "create conscience"- in the assistants of the other cities to the which it will travel.
Caixaforum, until January 20
Last weeks to visit the fantastic exhibition that recreates the bohemian life led by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec in the fin-de-siècle Paris (until January 20, in Caixaforum). Night-time celebration, which is so characteristically attributed to the Belle Époque -a few decades after and previous to devastating wars-
was portrayed by creators who, without too much pretension, would end up setting an artist paradigm far away from the academy criteria. A high place like Montmartre, paradoxically, constituted the underworld of loafers, some of which would capture their art in materials of the most diverse kind. Cartons or posters, of obvious modest confection, allowed Toulouse-Lautrec to give visibility to the cabaret shows and other festive moments, recreating the popular atmosphere of the party. In short, that peculiar space-time that reverses the usual relations and in which -anthropologically speaking- everything seems to be permitted. The next generation of great Parisian artists, Picasso at the head, will longingly return to that world, which is never completely far behind.
MACBA, until April 22
A fundamental exhibition, undoubtedly one of the most important during 2019 in the city of Barcelona, is focused on the work of Jaume Plensa (Barcelona, 1955). Sculptor internationally recognized and awarded with important prizes, his work evidences an amplitude of cultural influences and anthropological interests
-philosophy, music, religion-, disciplines which are understood as being at the service of human beings’ knowledge. "The goal [of his work] is not to build objects" explain the organizers, "but to develop relationships and include everyone in them". The exhibition, curated by Ferran Barenblit, shows works from different periods, from the 80s to the present. Their wise location offers an understanding of the amplitude of Plensa’s artistic glance, that is not satisfied with the representation of the figure nor is it recreated in its complete disappearance. The dialectical tension, a fundamental element of his art, gives rise to reflection: the viewer, who moves away from definitive solutions, is invited to define his own place from the work and in relation to himself. Plensa explained that "sculpture is an extraordinary way of asking questions" and that, thanks to doubt, to the formulation of questions, human beings progress. What actually poses his work are not enigmas, but confrontations with the power of significance that each person treasures. Art with capital letters, the one that -on many occasions- had told us about Eugenio Trías, another supporter of the aesthetic experience as a source of self-knowledge.
Sala Parés, until February 5
One of the historic art galleries of the city of Barcelona offers, until February 5th, a wonderful exhibition under the title "Parés a París. À la recherche de la Ville Lumière".
Beyond that homophonic proximity -which seems to announce an empathy in the strictly artistic sphere- the exhibition brings together the work of some of the leading Catalan painters who, by the turn of the century, had the opportunity to visit or settle temporarily in the so-called "city of light", a referential metropolis for creators from all over the world. The organizers explain: "Many of the artists who went to Paris in search of inspiration and pictorial experimentation came back full of new ideas and, sometimes, of works already executed to show to the Barcelona public their artistic evolution. Some of them were linked to the Sala Parés, art gallery that became one of the places of privilege to appreciate what the Catalans living in Paris produced". We are thinking of well-known names, such as Ramon Casas, Isidre Nonell or Santiago Rusiñol - to mention only three- whose works (among which, respectively: La grasse matinee, Étude, Gitana or El bohemi. Portrait of Erik Satie) can be seen at the Barcelona gallery.